The ultimate in CQ gear these days is a “tactical impact block” on your 1911.

Latrodectus mactans is the most dangerous spider in North America. The Black Widow’s bite injects a dose of neurotoxic venom that is 15 times more potent than that of the prairie rattlesnake. Something similar might be said of the frame of this new custom .45 from Kase Reeder ( You can do a lot of damage to your adversary even before you get around to injecting 230 grains of lead into his nervous system.

One glance tells you there is something different about Reeder’s Black Widow 1911. In fact, there are several things, but the most visually striking is its sharp steel beak – a “tactical impact block” in today’s combat parlance. It’s there because you can use it to deliver fight-stopping pain without firing a shot, because it protects the crown of your muzzle, because it’s a great aid to weapon retention, and because you can use it to silently scoop out somebody’s heart, or drive a wedge clear through his windpipe, or perform an instantaneous lobotomy.

Though the bite can cause intense pain, the Black Widow is not likely to kill you. Fatalities occur in no more than about five percent of the cases and, in the United States, only 63 deaths were officially attributed to Black Widow bites between 1950 and 1989. Those are much better odds than you’ll get in a gunfight. As for preeemptive strikes, most insecticides have no effect on the Black Widow. An antivenin serum exists for the bite, but is rarely used because it has a history of causing more deaths and major injuries than the bite itself. If an antilead serum existed, it would probably suffer a similar fate.

The unique frame of Reeder’s Black Widow is based on the STI 2011 wide-body, which is milled from 4140 maxxell steel bar stock. The grip and mainspring housing are STI-patented polymer. Standard magazine capacity is 14 rounds. The slide is also top-end, machined by Caspian from 4340 high-carbon steel. The match-grade barrel and bushing are by Kart, long a favorite of custom 1911 makers. Sights are classic low-cut Bo-Mars with a tritium insert in the front post. Custom parts are the best from Brown and McCormick. Design, smithing, final machining, shaping and fitting are pure Kase Reeder.

Not all Black Widows are venomous. Males are harmless. It’s the female you have to watch out for. The Black Widow spends most of her time hidden in her web, hanging around belly-up. Her attacks are usually defensive in nature, rushing out and biting only when her web is disturbed. Or when she finds herself trapped in your pants or your shoes.

Pulling the trigger on the Reeder .45 can get pretty boring. The same thing happens every time. Gun goes bang, cycling, extraction, ejection are slick and sweet as homemade butter, single hole in target increases by another tiny fraction of an inch. Kase Reeder believes that the old 1911 squabble of accuracy vs. reliability, that is, close-tolerance action vs. free and clear feeding and ejection, no longer applies. He proves it with every gun he builds.

It’s something he learned from his dad, famous custom pistolsmith and top international handgun hunter Gary Reeder. “I started working on guns with my dad before I was old enough to see over the gunshop counter,” Kase says. “When I was a kid hanging around the shop we always had a lot of great gunsmiths working there, including some great 1911 gunsmiths, and I would watch everything they did. I bought several Armand Swenson .45s at gun shows and I used to take them completely apart and play with them so I could see exactly why and how Swenson did what he did.”

The female Black Widow spider is prolific, laying several batches of up to 750 eggs each during the summer, but less than ten percent of the young survive the first few hours of life because they start killing and eating each other as soon as they hatch. In the spider-eat-spider world in which we live, the severity of an individual’s reaction to the Black Widow bite depends on the area of the body bitten (shot placement), amount of venom injected (caliber), and sensitivity to the toxin (mindset). Stunning, isn’t it, how much we can learn from our pets.